Changing Roles and Responsibilities

7 And he [John the Baptist] preached, saying, “After me comes he who is mightier than I, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. 8 I have baptized you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”

Mark 1:7-8

Has there ever been a place in your life when it was time for you to leave so someone else could fill your role? I’ve been on both sides of this, and it can be challenging.

One thing that blessed me in my local church was this elderly gentleman named Fuzzy that played an upright, string bass. His talent was marvelous. One day, after I’d been a member of a local church for several years, the music director told me that Fuzzy was going to retire from playing bass, and he made the request that I fill his spot – I played electric bass.

When Fuzzy and I met to talk through “his” role, I was saddened. He loved the decades he’d spent playing bass, but he had been praying for someone to replace him; his age interfered with his talent. His prayer was answered, but the reality was brutal. I think John the Baptist may have felt some of this.

I’m not diminishing John’s joy. But there’s a message here for us:

2 Now when John heard in prison about the deeds of the Christ, he sent word by his disciples 3 and said to him, “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?” 4 And Jesus answered them, “Go and tell John what you hear and see:

Matthew 11:2-4

When John the Baptist was in prison, he no longer preached to huge crowds, no longer baptized throngs of people. He was even isolated from his home and his way of life. Doubts were pummeling him. I don’t think he sinned, but he needed confirmation that he had been correct. Fuzzy kind of did that with me.

For several Sundays, he sat close to where I played. He wanted to know if I played the songs correctly and was doing the right things to fill his role. He wanted to know that he had chosen correctly.

We all have times when we surrender our role, our position, to someone else; it’s tough, and you want to know that it was the right decision. I’ve seen this at work, and I’m seeing it in the stages of our lives.

There was a time when I thought I was ready to conquer the world, then my first child was born. Then God gave me more children. The next thing I know, I’ve become a grandparent. What happened to conquer the world? What happened to my role in raising children? Now I am being silently asked to move to the role of an elderly person. This is how God works. John the Baptist experienced it, and every one of us will experience it if we haven’t already.

The good news is that God determines the times and circumstances when His preordained will touches our lives and moves us to a new place to share the gospel and glorify Jesus.


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